Hello new readers Uganda, Brazil, Singapore and more – I’ve got my hazelnut coffee beside me. I spent the morning watching/reading some random news. I went to bed as LIVE video of Grand Rapids, MI protest/riots/chaos unfolded. Whatever happened in GR was not on the national radar. Only the big cities are covered but every community has been touched.
My history is that I was brought up upper-middle class by a stay-at-home mother, from kindergarten on and a father who was raised a part-time foster child by a kind family who helped raise him on their family farm. He put himself through college at MSU serving in the National Guard and worked hard to build everything he ever had.
We lived in a great secluded neighborhood nestled in the woods outside of Lansing. Our neighborhood had several various nationalities, religious denominations and such. But I do recall one of the fine African American neighbors going around before moving in and talking with all the neighbors. Even at a young age it seemed unusual but this was the early 70’s. Even interracial relationships were seen as rare back at that time. But our neighborhood picnics were great and we all felt like one community. This was a rare and beautiful thing.
I went to the public schools and my elementary school included all the children from the nearby projects. I got to go to school with children of all races. In 5th grade we also had a big influx of Mong children. I cherish those days and many of those classmates are still friends. We learned to appreciate one another and the differences between us. In the days of the afro a distinct advantage was given when playing eraser tag in class. We often were treated to food and music from different places. I have to point out that teachers have the greatest opportunity to plant these seeds. We had some wonderful teachers who loved everyone equally. They worked to make sure barriers were broken down.
Middle School brought all the kids from various surrounding communities. Many of these pre-existing elementary relationships moved forward with us. Some grew apart but individually we all carried those lessons from elementary school onward. Fights and situations occasionally arose but most were over non-racial issues. Jealously as young hormones develop and the war of words that would go too far. But here new friendships were made some that carry on to this day. Off the top of my head – my friend Dwight, bi-racial who now is into politics. Donny now a police officer that I see occasionally at a mutual favorite Chinese restaurant. Community.
High School – “Should have been a Big Red” again saw an evolution as an even more diverse group was brought together. The biggest fights I ever saw was over someone cheating in TONK, a card game. The fight was not over difference in skin color but over cheating. Jealously fueled a few more scuffles as young hormones led people even deeper into new emotions and feelings. I continued to have friends in many circles from my interest in martial arts, soccer and yes, filmmaking. Friends were gathered by common interests and conversation.
I spent time during several summers in Denmark as part of an All-Star soccer exchange program. Living in the homes and participating in daily activities gave a wider view of the world to everyone involved. I went to LCC the community college while on a waiting list for MSU. My growing interest in film was pulling my attention from certain studies to scripts, storyboards, cast and crew organization. Lastly, I attending and graduated from MSU in a cobbled together degree that was attempting to fill in for a lack of a film program.
I’ve been a camp counselor, soccer coach and player here and overseas and a martial arts instructor. I’ve always looked at the PERSON. We are all gifts that are each wrapped a little different. Isolation and lack of exposure to different groups is what leads to or continues to extend the perceived difference. I can say that having friends of all colors and creeds keeps one from purposely speaking harmful words. And it makes it harder to sit by and listen. I have spoken up in kindness on several occasions to offer a different viewpoint to someone speaking ill.
I’ve found that an entire race often gets blamed for the actions of a few. Our impressions grow from our experience. Good or bad experiences will shape these attitudes one way or another. It is why – me personally, am not a fan of “school of choice” which while you may or may not save your child from some childish harassment you are also taking away the opportunity for that young person to have a science partner or gym class teammate that could instill lifelong perspective moving forward in life. A view that we are all one people. That we are same on the inside with interesting and colorful differences on the outside. Don’t leave a past of segregation only to enter a present day self-segregation. Cross the isle and be surprised at what you can learn and take away. Thank you to the TEACHERS who planted the seeds of harmony.
FILM UPDATES –
I enjoyed a great week of fan mail on our past film projects like THE QUEST TRILOGY (Forty Nights, Chasing the Star, The Christ Slayer), WILD FAITH (Very timely) and MAN’S BEST FRIEND (Thank you). If you want to watch thought provoking and positive stories please do take a watch. If you like what you say leave a few reviews and share with others. That is happening and the fan base to this movies keeps growing.
LOST HEART – This amazing film is in the final stretch of sound design and music. We’ve been putting a fine tooth comb over the credits trying not to make any errors of misspelling or missed credits. I had a good discussion with our distributor over this film. We’re all very excited to share this with everyone late summer/early fall.
LOOKING AHEAD –
BEST YEARS GONE – This week we announced the addition of Victoria Jackson. This will be the second time she has worked with CDI. You can read about it below.
Director Shane Hagedorn and I have been going over the script reworking some dialog to bring the “Racing” elements in the script out stronger. The character I play Gil, had his best days when he was chasing his dream of being a race car driver. This movie will have some great elements of music and such in in. We have a few more actors to announce and next week we’ll be looking at our new proposed shoot dates in August.
- We’ve also been pulling together the business on the 2021 WW2-era film and made a few more great steps this past week. Only a handful of units to move on this project and we’ll have this one ready to go.
- Also some great talks over ‘Hastings‘ the proposed WILD FAITH tv series. I had talks with our distributor over pre-sales and a few possible investors. This series is growing stronger by the week.
- We are still looking at the animation division – evaluating our scripts.
- Merchandise site is going to be going up – we’ve got some great things to offer our fans. I have a meeting over that this coming week.
- Soon I should be announcing the new home for some of the CDI associated projects. We have some agreements to review but things are almost all set up.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few updates but I’ve got some work to get done today so I’m going to end this. I’m not sure what any of you might take away from all this but take the time to get to know one another. Embrace the differences between us. Know that within our hearts and minds we are the same. Excessive force is real as is the danger that those tasked with enforcing laws. The athlete, soldier and law enforcement can all fall victim to adrenal flow. But someones pre-existing perceptions can breed compassion or excessive force. Protest is a great show of unity but rioting can cause those negative seeds to root even deeper.
As an artists I believe in the power of the story to enact change in people’s thought, actions and deeds. I believe we are all wired to love a story and when engaged we can enlighten someone to a different way to think or feel. The confinement due to the virus and the economic damage to so many has only served to fuel this fire. I would support the peaceful approach to protesting but understand the power of feeling in control when the world seems to leave many feeling powerless. The power of the mob ruling the night is addictive but is wasted frustration that could be better channeled. I am not one to judge but I see more positive paths to change.
Be safe and we’ll chat next week.
Fellow filmmaker friend Nate Quinn put this pic together after a recent hang.
NEW JOURNEY AHEAD
Happy Sunday my dear friends from around the world. I’m sipping my hazelnut coffee from my Double JJ mug and thinking about spring. I’ve just finished last week the next CDI script. I was engaged to translate a book to script and we’ll film it this May. With on-set pre-prod we’re looking at April 26-May 21st in Michigan. I’ll be doing some final edits this week before sending the script to others on the producer team and a few keys. We’re in talks on a director so we’ll see how that unfolds. This week I’ll be working the numbers and getting our battle plan together. We had a good meeting a week ago with our 1st AD Nate and we did some crew reviews. We hope to get most of the crew back together but we’ll have to make a few adjustments I’m sure either due to schedule conflicts or from our producer review, we’ll have a few changes to the team. We’ve got many who have expressed their interest should we need to bring new folks on board. It is hard as our budget only allows X amount of crew and our cast is limited to our story. But this film has committed funding, distribution interest and now we have our blue-print (script). I’m excited that we’ll be able to put so much in place in advance of our shoot. It will allow us to make this journey even more smooth.
We’re deeply evaluating CDI film #2 which will shoot fall/winter timeframe. It would likely be a fall shoot if in the Michigan and maybe winter if we go out west to shoot in AZ or Nevada. Slot 3 the 1st half of 2021 is being currently held as a possible WILD FAITH (Hastings) tv show. We would be working to finalize the season 1 scripts. The idea of revisiting the Wild Faith world is very exciting. Giddy up! If you have not watched WILD FAITH please do take a watch on Amazon Prime. It is a wonderful film for children also so I hope we reach more kids.
Ole Ben Lily might be back in action in ‘Hastings’ – coming soon?
MBF: Man’s Best Friend is now out in the marketplace and we’re starting to see that wheel turn. We’ve had lots more retailers and platforms pick up this title. We’ve got many events and showcases lined up this year with MBF. You can watch this film in your own home now on Amazon Prime. If you take a watch much like all the others, we encourage you to leave a review on our Amazon and IMDB.com page. I appreciate all the great feedback on the fight scene. I credit John Lennox for working with me on the fight arrangement. I also credit Graham Turner my practice partner and my co-stars in that bar scene. I’ve hurt an actor on set who would not focus and follow instructions during an action scene rehearsal. He was clowning with some actresses when we were going over a fight scene. On ACTION I pulled his shoulder out of socket because he turned the wrong way. So I was extremely happy and impressed by the focus of all those actors we worked with. John Lennox got them up to speed and we made a good sequence. I might consider a project with more action but that is not what I’m looking for. I seek strong stories to tell. Anyway, take a watch and if you like it, tell a friend.
Wrangler Robert Bradley faced a hard job with those dogs:)
LOST HEART is now in post audio with the amazing Dennis Therrian. He will be composing the score and sound design. The new locked edit is strong and I’m proud of Jesse Low and Scott Magie for their masterful work. The film will be delivered in June to BMG for distribution. I’m anticipating a premiere in the Whitehall area where we filmed. We’re now working on DVD art work with the distributor and the first trailer. Soon we’ll be able to give audiences a first look. I’m so proud of all our cast and crew for telling a beautiful story.
Who’s is this knucklehead? Niles Cass:) I really enjoyed this film because many of my scenes are with my brother from another mother Josh Perry. This film will start a slow build of PR towards a fall release.
EASTER season is upon us following a great Christmas with THE QUEST TRILOGY. I’ve had lots of great conversations over the three films. These biblical adventures create lots of good conversation. I’m excited how they are making their way around the world. These three films FORTY NIGHTS, CHASING THE STAR and THE CHRIST SLAYER should be watched together. Amazon Prime search these films and take a journey full of adventure.
WRAP UP THOUGHTS
Last week while enjoying a visit with an old friend and his son, I took a call. It was an FYI that someone in our local market was speaking ill of CDI and a few folks, myself included. Oh, I’m not perfect, never claimed to be, but we work very hard at what we do. I take our storytelling very serious and I’m doing it for what I feel are the right reasons. It seems, one of the talented people that we’ve worked with several times was approached and during conversation with this person, several negative things were apparently said about our organization. The issue is that the person being spoken to, knew the truth having worked with CDI many times.
Had their experience been truly negative it would have ended at one film but this person has worked with us multiple times. So my reaction to all this was a shrug.
“ACTIONS speak louder than any words.”
Find me a group that works as hard as we do and creates on our level or beyond and that is someone I or CDI might work with one day. RESPECT. But, while others talk toxic wasting breath and time, we’re creating and constantly moving forward. So decide to be a person of ACTION, not just talk. To know the truth of a matter look at the ACTIONS not the talk. So, keep the drama on the screen and sail forth telling the world stories and leaving a legacy for your artists. We’re prepping another ship (Film) for another great CDI journey so casting and crewing will be in the weeks ahead. We’ll be making announcements soon but you got the news here first.
Have a great Sunday and a productive week ahead.
Ah! Nothing like a good steaming cup of coffee on a snowy Saturday. I think I’ve been good at trailblazing ahead in filmmaking and not sweating the nay sayers. I DO care about our audiences and I DO care about the artists I work with. I want them to be proud to be part of a Collective Development project. The films have always been made with passion from the very beginning. So last night on the big screen, we did our first showing for our Michigan-based cast and crew of “40 Nights” that traveled to Yuma. A few significant other and special guests attended but I wanted to keep it intimate and low key. The theatrical version will be a more powerful 7.1 mix but even stereo, the film played powerful. What it will mean to each of you – that is what peaks my curiosity.
I wanted to share that screening with some good people – and we did. Thank you so much to the Lansing Media Center for hosting our cast and crew showing last night. It was great to see it on the big screen. Yuma, AZ-area cast and crew get ready. I’m very excited to show everyone there VERY soon.
Also we’re entering another phase in the filmmaking journey. I compare finishing a feature film to dropping a kid off at the bus stop, ready for their first day of school. At home, you can feed the child all the encouragement, love and preparation before the harsh world has contact. Our child is now on the bus. Creatively, what is – IS. Now the debates can rage – love it, hate it – why didn’t someone fund my film versus this…like I said in a post, “stepping out of the darkness where the masses wait with rocks or roses”-
Audiences will decide. I shift to business mode arranging things that will assist exposure of this film. My biggest regret on “40 Nights” after watching in studio was that it lacked P&A to show in theaters around the world. I thought it would play epic – last night at our first private viewing – it did. Much is credited to the capture of beautiful locations and the skilled hard work of our production team. A special credit to the vision of our director who translated the story from page to screen.
Feel free to sign up your local theater, church or venue for a screening opportunity. The page is on the http://www.40nightsthemovie.com website.
My upcoming director and editor on the second film got to attend the showing. I wanted to show them for weeks the cut of “40 Nights” as we prepped for part 2 “Chasing the Star” BUT I wanted them to see it EPIC. I wanted them to get to experience the world and I think they did just that. This second adventure will also be one for the books. Getting ready to chase the star:) Building the team.
I’ve talked about this before. I’m blessed with having played team sports from a young age. My father was big into sports and so that was part of my life. You rise and fall together and you participate in witnessing what can be done with proper COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION. Coordination is that synergy between it all and the lines run on professional respect. That is, respect for the story, that will all bear their names. As stated, my goal is to have my cast and crews be proud of the participating. These teams can develop over time but I’ve realized, some don’t really know what a team truly is. I am going to give an example and perhaps it will help someone, somewhere.
Three films with fixed budgets are contracted. A team is hired for project one. Project done. Proposed hirings again for project two from project one – A few want more compensation. (Who doesn’t) But the trilogy was outlined – it is a business plan. Now the end game goal, is to take the three completed films to sell NEW development at a studio or TV network. Or just raise budgets to reflect ROI from the trilogy films and move forward with a new slate. Budget increase will equal pay increase. Okay, everyone should be with me.
As a producer,I HIRE, yet as a writer or actor I’m often, THE HIRED. If you made an offer for a short time commit at lower rates (I did not say FREE nor for IMDB credit). These are rates with transportation, lodging, food and such. Now as an actor, would working under your assumed rate, on a short term project, by a company that hires repeatedly or on a regular basis. That sounds good.
To me, the quality has to be at a certain level for acting consideration, but I think when possible that quality should also be looked at by crews. I know many do pick and choose very carefully where to put their artistic heart. I understand schedule conflicts – why work always wants to land on one another versus nose to tail? It just does. But doing a project, that I believe in for a smaller rate. I’ve done it. And it won’t kill my yearly income by working a few days under rate. I have often nurtured relationships that would grow and expand in scope and budget over the years. The movie BOTTLE ROCKET shot immediately to mind. Several creative individuals that collaborated and still collaborate.
Back to the job offers, I watch people work on a series of free projects and turn around to tell me a rate offered is too low. Do I carry the burden that this person chose to play versus work? Other client(s) that did not pay? Whatever the case, now someone behind in bills, pushes to get more $$. Now, I’ve been successful as an actor because I respect the long game. A career of building respectful relationships that when the large paycheck opportunity comes along that person is happy to give it, because you gave so much when they had so little. Respect is real power. I give people a clean slate to make their own respect. Together I invite people to travel on a journey of storytelling. I’ve dedicated my life to following this path. I will be direct and people understand, I’m looking at the end game. A finished film. A story made by a team of artists. One that I can only hope everyone is proud to have worked on. Enough of this ramble.
I’m going to cut this short as I have some work to attend to and I want to finish a polish on a script. I’m almost there. That script is the 3rd film in the QUEST TRILOGY, “The Christ Slayer”…
Have a great Saturday! Keep clawing!
So I’m up bright and early on a Saturday and enjoying the quiet. It has been quite the week and 2016 has made a name for itself already. Several artists in the world have been passing and many from cancer. Now I know that we are getting close to breakthroughs on various treatments. I like the idea of this new war on cancer. I believe (anyone with eyes can see) that cures don’t appear to be in the interest of the big med companies. Western medicine has always been reactionary. Get sick and they try to fix. But it is also often a game of take this pill to take care of this but it causes this and that in side effects.
I recall one of my grandmothers on a mass of pills. She became zombie like and they thought the end could be near. A doctor stripped her of all meds and rebuilt what she took and she returned. I do think that the drugs had taken a toll on her body and ultimately that began a slide that lasted another ten years. I attended visitation for a buddy’s mom this week. He and I have been friends since third grade. She beat cancer twice and this was the third round and this time…I have another friend from first grade whose father is fighting it. We have all lost family and friends.
This year several artists from Alan Rickman to David Bowie have all lost battles to this disease. These were people of vast $ resources and still they lost. My friend and fellow actor Dan Haggerty, better known to millions as Grizzly Adams, passed the day before yesterday. I had gotten some inside information that it had turned bad from his manager. Dan had been cast in two films I had produced previously and he voiced “GOD” in our soon-to-release biblical film “40 Nights” (March 8th). They had estimated a period of time and hospice (bless those people) was being prepared. The next day while at that visitation I find out that Dan had passed and to please keep quiet until the family released the news. I had a good 24 hours of walking around being one of the few knowing what had happened. It gnawed at me – why? Even the greedy should agree – Cure people and they will live longer to spend longer.
Some cultures have little to no cancer or heart disease and such. WATCH what you eat. I’m glad they are making changes to school kids and lunch lines. We all know by the time they get to middle school even if they offer healthy lunch’s kids will still be making a diet of one hostess fruit pie and a handful of cookies. I had a few friends like that in school. Now the lunch ladies all knew me because I was the veggie kid I’m sure. They always heaped it on me because so few kids took any. I credit part parents and part athletics. I was studying martial arts and playing soccer, so I watched my fuel. I was building muscle and interested in health. So despite what is sold and offered it all comes down to supply and demand. Demand good food and the junk supply will dwindle.
Environment is another factor and I can’t tell you how sad I am about the Flint water ordeal. I think a good punishment for all who knew would be a healthy prison sentence but one where you only have that water supply to bath and drink. I don’t usually go off on these topics but it is not political. It is common sense and compassion for one another. Bad school food for kids, bad water and putting others at risk with piss poor extraction and transportation of oil and such. This natural gas in California and the list goes on. How is that whole deal in Japan? Godzilla is going to become a reality, okay maybe not but the ocean is poisoned from it. I’ve been in Manila, Philippines and felt the effects of a bad smog day. My buddy said most Chinese cities are the same. India? There exists a web of life and what we do to one part of the web affects the whole. Evolve or die. We’ve evolved ourselves into a do or die situation. We can control some aspects. Our elected leaders can control others. Companies can choose the RIGHT way perhaps reducing a % of their profit margin but gain longer term consumers. The common cold isn’t going away anytime soon = money to be made still.
PERSONAL, ELECTED & CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY
Fix these things and watch what happens. So I will try to head back towards the topic of FILM. I am happy that two of my childhood icons from TV shows I loved (David Carradine in “Kung Fu” and Dan Haggerty “Life & Times of Grizzly Adam”) were both people I got to work with and in the latter become good friends with. If you want to see these films seek out “Miracle at Sage Creek” (Thank you Thadd) to see the project I was involved in with David Carradine. Dan Haggerty can be seen in “An Ordinary Killer” (NEW release this year) or “Book of Ruth, Journey of Faith” (I love his chemistry with Lana Wood in this film) and of course “40 Nights” (March 8th) .
The film is DONE:) I was actually trying to get a link so that Dan Haggerty could watch the film in his final days. It is likely the most beautiful film I’ve produced to date. The film opens with God speaking. That is a huge casting task and when we recently had our final screening everyone commented on how perfect Dan was for the part. The film has been a whirlwind. Our release date was moved up on us and we had to really press at the end. As we speak the DVD’s are being made for the 1st release March 8th. The film is also just arriving for digital encoding for online and TV streaming. We’re in the process of looking at a few premiere showings. Also looking at church and theatrical set ups. My biggest regret after watching this film is not having the P&A (prints and advertise $) to put this film in theaters around the world. But it will be what it is to be. I was very inspired to dive into the second film in this QUEST TRILOGY. That film is “Chasing the Star” and we’re gearing up to shoot in the near future.
I’ve written about release dates on all the films in the past weeks so I won’t rehash that. The Christian Film Database that focuses on family and faith films announced that our “Ashes of Eden” and “40 Nights” are amongst the most anticipated films in 2016 by poll. That makes me proud. The “Ashes of Eden” film comes first to TV (Parables/Uplift) April 1st, NO JOKE:) and nationally April 7th.
I’ve also recently finished the “KNIGHT CHILLS 2” script and also the 3rd script in the QUEST TRILOGY. I just need to do a polish on these projects before starting some early development talks.
I’m about to embark on a work weekend with budgeting and script polishing to get ready for the week ahead. Thank you for once again listening to my ramble.
Hazelnut coffee is flowing as another bout of snow gently falls. I’m happy to be here with all of you recounting the events of the week. The traction on deal making is really picking up. I will take a moment to give some heart-felt advice that they don’t teach these kids in their film studies. PROFESSIONALISM IN COMMUNICATION – By this I mean if you are contacted by someone (especially if they have paid you prior) you need to respond in a timely fashion. I would bet that not one of these individuals I’m speaking about has the work load I do. Even if I am extremely busy I will respond back to say I’m extremely busy. From there a mutual good time to communicate can be set up. I’ve been disappointed because a few people who I saw as developing a foothold in our organization may not be. If I’m offering work I’m always amazed at how quickly some people respond and that same person can procrastinate over other call backs. This is a sure sign that this person will have a limited time in our industry and likely not a good investment of time. I want to develop people who really want to be in our industry because it is hard. opportunities are hard to come by and someone given one needs to make the best of it.
Okay onto updates!
“7 Stones” is getting some heat with its entry into VOD/DVD market. The doc film “Outside the Wire” is following behind that release with one of our new release partners.
More talks with companies on our “Supermodel Showdown” TV series. More companies are reviewing our 3 shows that are put together. This is a new area for me so things are a tad slower.
Great distribution and development talks this week with a few companies. We had an offer on our Civil War film but I think we may have to pass. I have some larger deals brewing and I think it will benefit better from one of those deals.
We are still waiting to see what product some new foreign film buyers like. I’m looking forward to expanding our alliance of companies to distribute with.
I had good sit downs with one of our new attorney’s and we will be doing some PR on this new team member. He is dealing with a small handful of issues that is pretty common in our business.
“Ashes of Eden” is closing in on the final scoring and after that a mix and we are done. “Bestseller” is in full editing now with our editor Chad Ice. Marketing will start to ramp up on these projects and we’ve started discussing premiere showings on “AOE”. It is great to note that both films have a lot of interest from distributors and we will find them a great home.
I’ve also been in talks on a few acting projects and I’ve got a secret project I’ve been writing on. It would shoot out-of-state in the spring because the story calls for it. I’ve had some talks on this project and will announce more later. It is a great role that I’m ready to sink my teeth into. I’m also putting some work into gathering investors on “Soul Eater” the prequel to “The 8th Plague”. I would love to film that this winter in Michigan so let’s see how that unfolds.
So my friends, stay warm and be productive. This time is great for buckling down and making stuff happen!